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2023-24 Player Review: Mathieu Olivier is a good role player

Mar 30, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Mathieu Olivier (24) celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

I feel like I should preface this review with this: Mathieu Olivier is a role player. He’s asked to perform certain tasks. He’s not expected to score goals or make sweet passes. What he is asked to do is be a physical presence and to keep the puck away from his opponents.

I will admit that I was not a fan of trading for Olivier. I don’t think there’s much room for a traditional enforcer in today’s NHL, even though you still need guys that can stick up for your teammates. In a possession driven, high scoring league, using a roster spot for someone that’s not expected to contribute offensively seems like a waste.

Olivier is a traditional fourth line grinder. He hits, he punches, he pins the puck in the corner, and generally makes life difficult for his opponents. He did those things well for the Jackets this season. When the fourth line was playing well (and not being asked to play too many minutes), they were a difference maker.

Advanced stats are difficult to analyze for a traditional fourth line because they aren’t going to generate many chances in their own end. But if you look at both goals against and expected goals against per 60, Olivier is near the top of the forward group in both categories.

You can still argue that maybe Olivier shouldn’t be an every night player. If the Blue Jackets find themselves with a new coaching staff in the fall, Olivier’s spot could be up for grabs. But as long as this team continues to ice a traditional fourth line, Olivier deserves a spot on it.

2023-24 Stats

Games: 54
Goals: 5
Assists: 7
Points: 12
Plus/Minus: -4
PIM: 70
5v5 Corsi%: 45.98
5v5 Fenwick%: 45.59
Off Zone Start %: 47.24

Contract

Olivier is signed through next season and has a salary of $1.1m. He will be a UFA next summer.

High Point

The game winning goal on March 2nd against Chicago went to Olivier. After throwing a hit in the corner, he was able to swat a pass from Werenski through the five hole.

The fighting highlight of the season for Olivier was perhaps his bout with Rempe. The rookie heavyweight was taking the league by storm and Olivier was able to put him in his place.

Low Point

It’s difficult to point to a specific low point. Perhaps it came in a game where the fourth line was asked to play too many minutes and play too large of a role.

Report Card

A

Point me to a player that more successfully fulfilled his role on the team. He may not have been the biggest contributor. He may have been asked to play too many minutes at times. But he did exactly what he was asked to do, and he did it well.